On 27th Bhadra, 2080, two doctors at Sancho Hospital in Hetauda, Dr Bikash Thapa and Dr Prashant Bidari were beaten severely during the hospital duty hours by a mob or some patient party. What was the so called reason? The doctors had referred a serious case two months back to a referral center in Chitwan, the patient died after a few days at the hospital there. Let us look at this small piece of information and link it with numerous recent incidents of violence against doctors and vandalism at hospitals in Nepal. This alarming trend is causing deep concerns among medical practitioners, healthcare institutions, and the general public alike. It is the need of the time to examine the root causes of this aggression and its potential consequences for society.
Let us try to get a perspective on why is such vandalism on the rise:
Is it more owing to the lack of accountability?
Is it the lack of trust in the medical system?
Is it that the patient parties come with unrealistic expectations and frustration, which at different times boil over into violence?
Is it that social media is playing a role in spreading misinformation and inciting violence against doctors and hospitals?
Is it that there is more than just patient parties, vigilantes involved in voilence, we have read such news in the past right?
What might be the impact of violence against doctors and hospital vandalism?
Violence against doctors and hospital vandalism has a number of negative consequences. It can:
Deter people from becoming doctors:
One of the immediate repercussions of such violence is the decreasing number of medical students in Nepal. This is a serious problem, as Nepal already has a shortage of doctors and we are lately seeing a decrease in the number of medical students to study undergraduate medicine courses, while some specialist courses are not getting new enrollments. The path to becoming a doctor is arduous, requiring years of rigorous education and training. However, when the reward for dedication and service is physical harm, many aspiring medical students are beginning to reconsider their career choices. This dwindling interest in the medical field not only jeopardizes the nation’s healthcare infrastructure but also leaves the already burdened healthcare system even more vulnerable.
Discourage doctors from taking difficult cases:
The violence against doctors has also resulted in a decline in the number of doctors willing to take on complex and challenging cases. Doctors may be less likely to take on difficult cases if they are afraid of being attacked. This could lead to patients not getting the care they need. The next time we have someone with a severe medical condition, the chances are that the hospital or the doctors may not be willing to try to check their luck in saving the patient. For they fear that the chances of success is not 100% in fact it never is 100%. Fear of reprisal for unfavorable outcomes is causing healthcare professionals to shy away from high-risk, high-reward situations. Consequently, patients with critical conditions may find it increasingly difficult to access specialized care, putting their lives at risk.
Damage the reputation of the medical profession:
The violence against doctors and hospital vandalism is damaging the reputation of the medical profession in Nepal. When Nepal at times talks of and dreams of medical tourism, news of such stories, certainly gives a bad impression to a country visualizing such thoughts.
Undermine the public health system:
The violence against doctors and hospital vandalism is undermining the public health system in Nepal. Our public healthcare system, isn’t particularly a nice one for numerous reasons. This could lead to a decrease in the quality of healthcare services and an increase in preventable deaths.
Call to action:
The violence against doctors and hospital vandalism is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. The following steps need to be taken:
Increase awareness and limitations of the medical profession. Not all patient’s can be treated at the nearest hospital. Thats why we need and we have specialist hospitals at different places.
The government and other stakeholders need to take steps to build trust in the medical system. This includes addressing incompetencies in the system, yes we have multiple incompetencies in our healthcare system. We need to find our incompetencies and work on them.
We need to have some system set up to take steps to crack down on the spread of misinformation and incitement on social media.
Hold perpetrators accountable:
While there have been legal reforms aimed at protecting healthcare professionals from abuse, it is clear that more needs to be done. The government needs to ensure that perpetrators of violence against doctors and hospitals are held accountable. The recent changes in the law are undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but they must be effectively enforced to deter potential aggressors.
The violence against doctors and hospital vandalism in Nepal is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. The government and other stakeholders need to take steps to increase awareness and understanding of the medical profession, build trust in the medical system, crack down on misinformation and incitement on social media, and hold perpetrators accountable. Moreover, education and awareness campaigns should be launched to foster a culture of respect and appreciation for healthcare workers.
The attack on doctors in Hetauda is a stark reminder of the violence faced by healthcare professionals in Nepal. It is imperative for society to reflect on the consequences of such violence. Today doctors in different parts of the nation are working with black bands around their arms. May it not be that they stop working altogether? I have seen my doctor friends flee the nation following similar incidents. If you look at the number of medical professionals leaving the nation, you just won’t believe it, but again don’t look far, almost every family has either immediate family member or extended family member abroad right. It is high time, our society and the nation as a whole plays due role in trying to give medical professionals a good working environment.